You might have heard… but the certain corners of the internet have been buzzing over the past week about the recently released stand-up routine on Netflix from Ali Wong called “Baby Cobra.” I saw it recommended on Netflix’s front page, but wasn’t really tempted because I’m not a huge stand up fan. Like, idk why? But it’s just not my usual jam, though I’ve seen a few that I find funny. I’m just a sucker for drama when I watch things. But then I also saw an article on Vulture about her that celebrated the fact that not only was she a funny comedian, but also that she filmed this Netflix special while seven months pregnant. Not going to lie, that hooked me! Yay, for pregnant bitches (like Claire on Outlander!) doin’ their thaaang. So I tried it! And I liked it! (Tbh, I enjoyed the material, but I also just liked her stage presence.)
And first I gotta give props here for some of her jokes that stuck with me, particularly her bit about when white guys give her head. In her words, “nothing makes [her] feel more powerful than when a white dude eats [her] pussy” because she feels like she’s “absorbing all of that privilege and entitlement.”
Plus, she has them in a vulnerable position, which, yes.
Colonize the colonizer!? Hell, yes. Get it girl! This whole set-up and extended joke just tickled me. It might be my favorite from the show? Idk, tough pick.
She felt like someone I could drink and chat with, and reminded me of a certain someone I know who has expressed this exact sentiment—when you start watching porn young, you can only go up (down?) from there.
Most of us are gross filthy animals—as she described herself—and we just need to embrace it.
And, I mean, anyone who describes healthy gluten-free bread as “a thousand percent fiber” and “twenty percent poetry” is good in my book.
Aside from sex and sexuality and pregnancy, a lot of her material is about a sort of over-the-top take on wanting to be a housewife instead of working outside the home (she’s acted before and now writes for “Fresh off the Boat” in addition to her stand up), and not really wanting to lean in, and, ya know, trapping a man with a baby. As one does.
The whole exaggerated pseudo anti-feminist thing has been part of her shtick for awhile now, per this interview, so that’s still a major part of this show.
Sometimes this part felt a bit too long and not always totally funny in my book. But it reminds me of things that I fantasize about with friends, like when I confess how I just want to be rich and lazy and have a maidservant to draw my bath for me every day like I’m in a romance novel or something. Totally wrong and selfish, etc. But c’mon, who isn’t thinking it sometimes? (Or all the time? Yeah, all the time.) And, hey, as she said to one reporter, “My views about feminism and working are complicated. Then again, it’s like that for most people about most things.” I mean, nothing earth shattering there—but, the thing is, most peoples views are complicated about most things? Life is complicated. Feelings are complicated. Blah, blah.
But, because I’m also a filthy animal, and I know it, I loved her bits on sex the most. She spends awhile on anal sex, with funny takes on giving men anal and also getting anal as a woman. Kudos on both counts.
I especially liked how she is always up front about the power dynamics of liking to give a guy a finger in the bum and why straight guys seem so adverse to it (except for hot neighbor Jeremy in “Broad City” because he loved it when Abbi or any female pegged him).
But rather than just harping on the male side of it, she also explains why she loves it. In her view, it makes her feel powerful to be the one potentially introducing a dude to something new (and his reluctance and fear don’t exactly turn her off). Respect.
PSA: Help a man discover the pleasure of his prostate today!! Thanks, Ali!!!
She doesn’t get into any pregnancy material until the latter half of the routine.
She talks about how pregnant female comics disappear from view, whereas male comics’ careers can, and often do, expand after their partners become pregnant or they have a baby. Addressing this vanishing act of many female comics once they become pregnant, she riffs:
That’s not the case with male comics. Once they have a baby, they’ll get up onstage a week after and be like, ‘Guys, I just had a fucking baby, that baby’s a little piece of shit, it’s so annoying and boring!’ And all these other shitty dads in the audience are like ‘That’s hilarious! I identify!’ And their fame just swells, because they’ve become this relatable family funnyman all of a sudden. Meanwhile, the mom is at home chapping her nipples, feeding the fucking baby, and wearing a frozen diaper because her pussy needs to heal from the baby’s head shredding it up. She’s busy!
I loved this. And it seems plausible, even though I don’t know a whole lot about the comic world today. (Again, check that Vulture article for a more informed take on this aspect of her routine and its engagement with the larger comic community.)
You can get more of her views about pregnancy in her interview with Elle, which I also enjoyed. She began:
Pregnancy for a working woman is generally perceived as a weakness. You’re tired at work, and then you have to take time off afterward to recover from the birth, and care for the baby… I was still nervous about having that “maternity leave” conversation. Every woman is.
After setting up this pretty basic defense of how hard it is for women to have to broach the subject with employers, she then gets into the heart of the matter—and how pregnancy can positively impact comedy.
I had so much anxiety about my stand-up career taking a big hit, so I wanted to use my pregnancy as a source of power and turn it into a weapon instead of a weakness. When you’re pregnant, you’re hungry, tired, and fat, so you have this “I don’t give a fuck” attitude that lends itself really well to performance. You let go of all dignity and shame, and it’s beautiful.
She really reminds me of Sharon Horgan of “Catastrophe” fame when she talks about pregnancy, sex, her body, and impending motherhood.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Horgan reflected on the dark humor surrounding pregnancy.
And what we ended up finding funny was the stuff that most people I hope wouldn’t want to write about, which is very, very difficult medical issues. I don’t know if we went into the series thinking we were going to write about pre-cancer and a geriatric pregnancy, but we found that to be funny. The great thing about [writing] season 2 is that we felt like we had a freedom because we were like, ‘Oh, audiences like pain. They like watching people going through it.’ The most positive response we had was people writing to us going, ‘That’s exactly the s— I went through! Please write about it more!’ It really gave us carte blanche to keep going down those avenues.
I think Ali Wong would agree with that? This kind of stuff can succeed—about trying to avoid getting pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, or the risks, and everything in between—not only because it truly is disgusting and hilarious, but also because it ends up helping people, too, by representing real life scenarios and normalizing how weird or fucked up things can be.
Finally, in another interview, Wong went further and explained that she intentionally filmed this while pregnant.
I lined it up on purpose, yeah. You know, I think a lot of times when a woman gets pregnant, it’s seen as a liability. It’s seen as a career killer. I had a lot of anxiety about that because I loved stand-up so much and I didn’t want to associate my daughter with a career killer. So instead I said, if I plan on doing this special when I’m pregnant then I will always have this memory of her and I being on stage together doing something that was hopefully a new beginning in my career.
(In her opinion, being pregnant also seems to help her audiences find humor in her miscarriage material, like it allows people to laugh. And her take on miscarriage is basically, yes, I miscarried, and women do all the damn time, moving on. After she tells a joke about it.)
So, has anyone watched it? Do you plan to? Do you like her? Were you “meh” about it? Do you actually watch stand up routines things like this??